Five By Five

Five By Five

They weren't identical. That was something no one else really knew but them.

But even the so-called Stepford Cuckoos hadn't quite realized what being unique individuals meant.

Esme took the Kick and felt invigorated, more alive than even when she and all her sisters were one mind. She knew what she could do; she was large and in charge. Phoebe took the Kick and felt charged, ready for action. Mindee's innate shyness disappeared; she felt powerful and in control, even without the ever-present safety net of her sisters to fall back on. Celeste saw deeper and farther into the world than ever before, and never wanted it to stop.

Sophie took the same amount of Kick as the others. But her body…the Kick kicked her harder than them. Once Quentin had been stopped, so ended her reason for holding back her pain from the others

Sophie screamed, a raw, psychic sound that penetrated deep into them all. Phoebe didn't know what action to take, but tried to halt the progression of her sister's death. Mindee was scared and silent once more, doing her best to back up Phoebe. Celeste saw the truth of what happened to Sophie, and why, and turned her powers on Esme.

Esme was…flawed. There was a sickness inside her mind, maybe had been since their birth. It had grown and grown with her, with them, its corruption left unchecked until its discovery – until now. And it was ready to unleash its festering putrescence upon their second-strongest sister, when they were all at their weakest from stretching their powers to the maximum.

Both Mindee and Phoebe were needed to hold Sophie's mind together. Celeste needed a not-inconsiderable portion of her own self to keep Sophie's body from dying while help arrived. Mindee had though to call Xorn, so maybe Sophie would be okay. Even if they now knew that Xorn was really Magneto in disguise, they also knew he was her only hope.

But Esme had to be stopped, or maybe they would never be the five-in-one again. Five, or…one.

Celeste had to try. It got harder and harder to hold back the sickness as time went on, but soon Sophie was getting help from outside their gestalt, and Mindee and Phoebe could finally help her.

Three against one, even against their peripherally strongest member, was no contest. They were used to working together, and thus knew every nook and cranny of each others' minds.


It was the work of only a few, eternity-seeming moments to bind Esme away from the flaw, corralling the corrupting influence inside an impenetrable cage where the Three-in-One could obliterate it.

Thus obliterated, Esme's consciousness fell away from theirs, towards the oblivion of the rest she needed to heal.

Mindee and Phoebe, exhausted from their efforts, did much the same, only leaving enough of their minds active to allow Celeste to 'lead' them where they needed to go. Celeste herself was also tired, but, having expended most of her energy on fighting Esme, would not allow herself to sleep until she knew her sister had come back to them.

And someone needed to wait up for Sophie.

Gathering the shreds of energy left behind by the other four Cuckoos, Celeste directed Mindee and Phoebe to carry Esme to the infirmary, then place her on the empty bed next to Sophie's. Another mental nudge or two, and they curled up on their own beds, before falling asleep.

Celeste took a chair and settled in out of the way of Xorn and the doctor, links of mental awareness keeping her apprised of each of her sister's conditions. Mindee and Phoebe simply needed a day or two of rest; Esme needed that and more, plus some time out of their shared link while her mind healed; Sophie…well, Sophie was getting the help she needed.

Once Celeste knew that her sisters would be all right, that the Five-in-One would be together again…then she could rest.

It was what they did, after all; look out for each other. That was one sisterly duty that none of them ever shirked, even if Esme's sickness had twisted it.

Five, three, one…they were all sisters. All Cuckoos. All…family.